Why am I being offered a mammogram through the screening program?

Created: 21.06.2016
Updated: 22.03.2018

To improve the chances of finding breast cancer early, in June 2002 the German Bundestag unanimously ruled to introduce a quality assured mammography screening program. Previous studies in other countries showed that women can be saved from dying of breast cancer by regularly participating in the screening program to detect breast cancer early. To date, no other method for detecting breast cancer early has been able to yield this effect.

Women between 50 and 69 years old have the highest risk of developing and dying from breast cancer. They therefore also benefit the most from receiving regular mammograms through an organised program every two years. An x-ray of the breast can detect early forms of breast cancer which cannot be felt. When treated accordingly, the woman’s chance of recovery normally improves, since the size of the tumour and how much the disease has spread to lymph nodes are crucial to the prognosis. Furthermore, most cases allow for surgery without removing the breast and milder medications.

However, every method of early breast cancer detection also has drawbacks. Women may become stressed by additional examinations required due to suspected breast cancer.  The breast cancer screening also detects tumours or early stages of cancer which would have gone undetected and consequently untreated without this examination.

Mammography Screening is the only breast cancer screening method scientifically recognised to be effective. This requires regular examinations through a quality assured program with specially trained and capable physicians as well as the continuous evaluation of results. In Germany this is provided by the Mammography Screening Program.

Therefore, if you are between 50 and 69 years of age, you will be invited to participate in the Mammography Screening Program every two years. You decide whether you want to participate or not. After all, women feel differently about the benefits and drawbacks of breast cancer screening.

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